Being Catholic at College Today: The Holy Struggle

I am a young college student who was raised in a conservative-leaning Catholic house. I went to Mass on most Sundays and attended Catholic schools for the majority of my life, including all of high school. I have a strong faith and strong opinions, some of which happen to be more liberal and not completely in line with traditional church values. I want to strive to live every day as my Catholic conscience tells me to, but also how my young and open mind begs me to. I, like many other young religious people in this modern world, am at a crossroads between what I believe, what I think, and what I think I should believe and think. It can sometimes be very overwhelming. It is also difficult to overcome certain assumptions when people learn of my faith because, like other religious groups, Catholics can be viewed as all being the same: religious, overzealous people who went to Catholic school, can’t hold a conversation without bringing Jesus into it, and always do what the old Catholic folks say. Well, I’m going to tell you how my Catholic story looks, and I bet many of my fellow Catholic youth can relate.  

As a young Catholic who has always had a strong faith that was especially evoked in high school, I can attest to the fact that the pressures of society can oftentimes change the course you thought you’d be on. While in high school, I was sure that I would continue to go to Mass every Sunday and stick mostly with the church’s view on many issues. I was the kid who read in school Mass, was (and still am) good friends with our school priest, and always had the answers in religion class. Freshman year of college, however, proved to be more difficult than I imagined because I was no longer immersed in a culture that supported my Catholic identity and behaviors, but one that questioned and even pulled me away from it. Because of this, I attended Mass infrequently and was not living to the standard that I normally hold myself to.

I can’t tell you exactly what changed, but after I came back from my study abroad trip in Spain, I felt like a new person who wanted to reconnect with her younger, more grounded self. Though I had a decent first year at school with many unforgettable and wonderful moments, I was missing something. It wasn’t until I came back to my faith and rediscovered the reasons why I chose to be Catholic that I realized what I was missing, though. This year, I am happy to say that I make it to Mass (almost) every Sunday, have solidified many of my beliefs and standards for myself, and am an active participant in CNU’s Catholic Campus Ministry (CCM). This group has brought me a whole new community of fellow Catholic students who can understand what I feel and confirm that I am where I want to be and share in my joy from the same source.

On a separate note, my time separated from structured religion has actually allowed me to grow closer to God. I had questioned many things my freshman year when I was first on my own and able to control all of my own actions. I have some liberal views that I have come to firmly believe in, but my time in reflection has also brought me a stronger faith and relationship with God. I have found that my experiences at my Catholic school were some of my best memories and that they do not define me as a typical “Catholic school girl,” but they did give me a foundation upon which I have expanded and truly become my own person. I am not super conservative, close-minded, or lacking in social skills just because I went to a private Catholic school. I am an open-minded and liberal leaning college student, just like many of us, and my religious ties are not in tension with my “opposing” views, but rather strengthen my convictions that comprise the unique person that I am.

With that, I encourage you all to seek what is true, good, and compelling to you, no matter how they may seem to the outside world, and hold all of those varied views in your heart. Live by them, and you will live as you are meant to live. 

I just thought these were fun and wanted to share. If you laughed too, we could be great friends :)